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Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Almanzo Thawed his Frozen Feet Incorrectly

Waiting for an elevator tonight, I heard the funniest conversation.  Which work out well.  I kind of needed a little laugh.

Two businessmen, both of whom looked like they were in their early 60's, were discussing the upcoming cold front heading toward their next destination.  Somehow, that segued into 'how to save feet that are frostbitten.'

One man was saying that if your feet are frozen, NEVER try to thaw them if there is any chance that they might be re-frozen before you get to help (which is true).  He then said to NEVER rub your feet (or any frozen tissue) to try to thaw them. . .frozen flesh has ice crystals in the cells, and rubbing them is a little like having a lot of little rocks under your skin.  If you rub them, you can cause even more damage (which is also true).

The other man turned toward the first man with a look of utter incredulity and said "What?  That's not what Almanzo Wilder did in the Long Winter!"

I nearly choked.

Had it been a woman, young boys, or teen girls, I might have just smiled and wondered the same thing.  But a man?  Quoting something from a Laura Ingalls Wilder book?  Oh. My. Word!

That just made my day.

But, as is my M.O., I didn't just leave it at a giggle. . .I had to know whether Almanzo was doing something dangerous, or whether the first man was right.

Turns out, Almanzo may have taken a chance when he got that pail of snow.  I wonder if later, when he had diphtheria and neuritis afterwards, if the permanent damage to his feet was, at least in part, connected to that choice.  Hmmmm.

At any rate, knowing correct basic first aid for frostbite can't hurt.  So, here it is:
  • Don't rub the area (especially with snow).  It will worsen the injury.
  • If possible, don't walk on your feet if they are frostbitten (or use an area of your body that is frostbitten)
  • If you have to, though, try to keep the area padded AND frozen
  • Keep the frozen area frozen if there is ANY chance that re-freezing might occur.  That can cause even more damage.

(Photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net and can be found here)

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